Glossary of Urological Terms

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Adenocarcinoma: A cancerous tumour developing from the glandular component of any organ (particularly the prostate or kidney)

Analgesic: A drug used to relieve pain

Angiomyolipoma: A benign tumour of the kidney which arises from blood vessels and fat; it may, if it grows large enough, rupture and cause bleeding into or around the kidney

Anti-inflammatory: A drug which reduces inflammation and helps to relieve pain; often used to treat prostatitis & the pain of kidney stones

Azoospermia: The complete absence of sperms in ejaculated semen; one cause of male-factor infertility. Usually due to failure of production of sperms by the testis or to obstruction of the tubing along which sperms normally pass


Balanitis: Inflammation of the foreskin or the tip of the penis

Bladder: The midline, lower abdominal organ which stores urine prior to its expulsion via the urethra

BPH: Benign prostatic hyperplasia; benign enlargement of the prostate gland, invariably seen with increasing age

Brachytherapy: A type of radiotherapy where radioactive seeds are implanted directly into an organ, usually the prostate gland

BXO: Balanitis xerotica obliterans; a scarring disease of the foreskin, of unknown cause, which results in a tight foreskin


Calcium oxalate: The commonest constituent of kidney stones and the type of stone which is most prone to recur

Calculus: A stone, usually in the kidney or ureter, but may also occur on the prostate or bladder

Calyx: The outermost part of the collecting system of the kidney where urine is first released for excretion

Catheter: A rubberised or silicone tube passed into a hollow organ (usually the bladder) to drain its contents

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to treat cancer

Chordee: A deformity of the penis which results in a bending on erection

Cystitis: Inflammation of the internal lining of the bladder

Circumcision: Surgical removal of the foreskin, usually performed for phimosis

CT: Computerised tomography; a form of X-ray where slices are taken through the body to produce images at different levels

Cystectomy: Surgical removal of the bladdder, usually for invasive cancer

Cystocele: Prolapse of the bladder into the vagina

Cystogram: An X-ray of the bladder where dye is inserted into the bladder using a catheter

Cystoscopy: Inspection of the bladder using a telescope (either flexible or rigid) with an attached light source to illuminate the interior of the bladder

Cytology: The study of individual cells, usually in the urine, to identify malignancy or other disorders


Dilatation: Stretching or widening of an opening, usually the urethra or neck of the bladder

Diverticulum: An abnormal pouch leading off the cavity of a hollow organ; most commonly seen in the bladder

DRE: Digital rectal examination; usually to feel the prostate gland

Dysuria: Painful passage of urine


Embolisation: Blocking the artery to an organ by introducing foam, coils or gel under X-ray control using a small catheter placed in the artery

Enuresis: Incontinence of urine at night usually considered synonymous with bedwetting

Epididymis: The sperm-carrying mechanism lying behind the testis which carries sperms from the testis to the vas deferens during ejaculation

Epididymitis: Inflammation/infection of the epididymis, often involving the testis as well (epididymo-orchitis)

Erectile dysfunction: Impotence; the inability to obtain or maintain an erection sufficient for penetration and the satisfaction of both sexual partners

ESWL: Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy; shockwaves generated in water, focussed and fired through the body to fragment stones in the kidney or ureter

Extravasation: Leakage of urine or surgical irrigation fluid outside the urinary tract

Exstrophy: A congenital condition where the bladder remains on the surface of the lower abdomen open to the outside


Frequency: Passing urine too often, usually during the day


Haematospermia: Blood in the semen during ejaculation

Haematuria: Blood in the urine

Hydrocele: An abnormal collection of fluid in the naturally-occurring sac which surrounds the testicle

Hesitancy: Having to wait an abnormally long time for the flow of urine to start


Immunotherapy: Treatment of cancer by stimulating the natural immune response

Incontinence: Involuntary leakage of urine

IVU: Intravenous urogram; an X-ray of the kidneys, ureters and bladder performed using an injection of dye into a vein in the arm


Kidney: One of two paired organs (normally) which lie at the back of the abdomen, in front of the lower ribs, and filter the blood to produce urine


Laser: Light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation; an energy source for performing some types of urological surgery

Laparoscope: A telescope with a light source and camera attached which is inserted into the abdominal cavity (through a small incision) to perform 'keyhole' surgery

Lithotripsy: Wearing away of a stone; usually synonymous with ESWL

Litholapaxy: Crushing of a stone, usually in the bladder, to reduce it to fragments small enough to be passed spontaneously or removed through an endoscope

Lymphadenectomy: Surgical removal of lymph nodes to determine whether they are involved with cancer


Metastasis: A secondary tumour (remote from the original cancer) which has arisen by spread through the blood, the lymph system or by direct invasion

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging; a means of producing cross-sectional images of the body to characterise tissues by the way the electrons in the tissue move in response to a strong magnetic field


Nephron: The microscopic filtering unit in the kidney which filters water and waste products from the blood

Nocturia: Abnormal passage of urine at night


Phimosis: Tightness of the foreskin, either due to a scarring disease or as a result of a congenital abnormality

Paraphimosis: Retraction of a tight foreskin which becomes "stuck" due to an inability to return it to its original position covering the head of the penis

Polyuria: Over-production of urine, usually at night; often occurs in the elderly due to poor water handling ability with increasing age

Prostate gland: A chestnut-sized organ lying at the bottom of the bladder which produces chemicals to nourish sperms and facilitate their transport to the female uterus

Prostatitis: Infection or inflammation of the prostate gland

Prosthesis: An artifical implant used to replace any part of the body (e.g. a testicle)

PSA: Prostate-specific antigen; a chemical released into the bloodstream by the prostate gland which may be raised in men with prostate cancer


Seminal vesicle: A sac lying behind the prostate gland which stores seminal fluid and sperms in preparation for ejaculation


Testosterone: The main male hormone produced mainly by the testicles (and by the adrenal gands)

TNM: A staging system for cancer which describes the extent of the primary tumour (T), the lymph nodes (N) and metastases (M)

Transitional cell carcinoma: A malignant (cancerous) tumour arising from the internal lining of the urinary tract

TUR: Transurethral resection, usually of the prostate gland (TURP) or of a tumour in the bladder (TURBT)


Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves used to reflect off tissues to determine their nature

Ureter: The thin, muscular tube which propels urine down from the kidneys to the bladder

Ureteroscopy: Inspection of the ureter (and/or kidney) using a telescope (either flexible or rigid) with an attached light source passed into the bladder and up the ureter towards the kidney

Urethra: The tube through which urine passes to the outside of the body from the bladder

Urgency: A sudden, irresistible desire to pass urine


Varicocele: An abnormal collection of varicose veins above the testicle, usually on the left side

Vas deferens: A muscular tube which carries sperm from the epididymis into the urethra during ejaculation of semen

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